Rudy Winkler won the NCAA Men’s Hammer throw on Wednesday night, June 7. The Rio Olympian won it, despite dealing with a sore back all season. University of Oregon journalism student Ariel Sax wrote this for RunBlogRun. Ariel Sax is a sophomore at the University of Oregon studying journalism and communication.
By Ariel Sax
EUGENE, Oregon — Despite a recent back injury, Cornell’s Rudy Winkler won the NCAA men’s hammer championship with a distance of 243 feet, 2 inches Wednesday at Hayward Field.
“This was the first meet where I felt really comfortable and I was able to throw the way I wanted to throw,” said Winkler.
He reached his highest distance with his third throw. However, he wasn’t that comfortable with his form and physical ability until this championship. He believes that now he is on the path to throwing further and further.
The last time Winkler competed at Hayward Field, he won the 2016 Olympic trials with a hurl of 251-10, which is his personal best. He said his confidence was raised coming into the NCAA because he felt the same way that he did when going into the trials.
This week, he was consistently throwing 60 to 70 meters (196 feet to just under 230 feet) in practice, which brought more comfort and confidence.
The outcome was Winkler’s best throw of the season; however, it is still 7 feet, 9 inches away from his personal best.
Following in second with a new personal record of 241-8 was Alex Young from Southeastern Louisiana University. He threw this new personal record on his last throw of the event, moving from sixth to second place.
Young was not sure if he would even make it into the final until he threw 231-9 on his third throw.
“It was a rollercoaster for sure – I had one throw to make it into the finals,” said Young.
This was Young’s last collegiate meet, and in honor of it, he wore special western styled rodeo socks that he called his “Wild West socks.”
“That was my motto going in — this was my last rodeo to give it what I got, and I came out with a PR,” said Young. “I’m happy.”
Both Young and Winkler will continue to train for the U.S. nationals that will be held in Sacramento this year.